Welcome to Film Room, our weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.
You’ll notice our most time is spent on the first segment. After all, big plays win games – and lose them.
How They Happened (big-play analysis)
Magee’s Trot: With 4:42 left in the first quarter, Terrence Magee, on an inside zone run, blasted 65 yards to the Texas A&M 1-yard line.
- This play is blocked stupendously. In a one-tight end set with Connor Neighbors as the fullback, Magee runs behind the sturdy left side of the offensive line.
- Key blocks were made by Neighbors, center Elliott Porter, left tackle La’El Collins and left guard Vadal Alexander. Magee slipped through the crease created from the blocks and bolted.
- Give credit to Magee, who was fast enough to race past LB Donnie Baggs early on during the play. Baggs, somewhat unblocked, nearly tackled the running back for a 2 yard gain.
Gordon’s grab: On the first play of LSU’s fourth drive, Zach Mettenberger hits tight end Dillon Gordon for a 36-yard gain.
- A&M put a whopping nine guys in the box on this play. That’s helpful to the passing game. From the I-formation, with two TEs, the play is built around the fake run to RB Jeremy Hill to the left. Mettenberger, after the play-action, rolls right on a bootleg and Gordon runs a slant across the field.
- Gordon ran right past the linebacker, selling the play-action as if he were a blocker. The safety bit hard – and I mean, hard – on the play-action. Gordon’s wide open for the big gain.
- From an empty set – GASP! – Mettenberger eyes A&M’s outside linebacker. When the linebacker follows TE Travis Dickson on his route, Mettenberger hits Landry.
- The receiver ran a slant in the spot where the outside linebacker had been. Landry caught the ball inside the 2 and had an easy touchdown. Then he did the air guitar celebration.
- LSU plays a 4-3 despite four receivers being split wide. The Tigers blitz hard, bringing six players against the Aggies six in pass protection.
- LB DJ Welter is the key to this turnover on downs. He blitzes from the left and the running back, the sixth Aggie in for pass pro, is aligned to the opposite side and doesn’t see Welter in time. Manziel runs away from Welter and right into Danielle Hunter, forcing the incompletion. It was a big, big play. LSU held its 14-0 lead with 9 minutes left in the second quarter and got ball possession.
- From a shotgun set and three wide receivers, Mettenberger threw from about 4 yards deep in the end zone and hit Beckham on an out route about 2 yards shy of the first down marker.
- Beckham, turning up field, lowered his shoulder and pushed the would-be tackler down with an extended right hand, gaining the necessary yardage.
- The play couldn’t have worked without good protection. The Aggies brought just five to LSU’s seven. The key block came from TE Travis Dickson, who lined up next to Mettenberger in the backfield.
Mettenberger to Landry, Take 2: On 2nd and 8 from the TAMU 40-yard line, Mettenberger hits Landry for a 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-3 late in the first half.
- In the I-formation with a tight end, Mettenberger play fakes the run to the right. He turns to Landry, who’s wide open on a wheel route.
- A&M cornerback Howard Matthews bit on the play-action, allowing Landry to get so wide open.
- Against the Mustang (and a five-man rush), Manziel is under pressure and lobs one down the sideline to a streaking Walker, who’s in man-to-man coverage against Tre’Davious White.
- White slips, Walker catches and A&M scores. Of note, the safety, Craig Loston, was aligned on the far side of the field where Evans was.
- This is basically the game. LSU forces a punt with 13 minutes left in the game and up 21 points. How’d they do it? They used the Mustang 3-2-6 package on each of the three plays.
- On first down, Manziel threw short to receiver Mike Evans for a 3-yard gain. Welter was there to ensure he got no more.
- On second down, Welter came on the Mustang blitz, pressuring Manziel and forcing the QB to throw away the ball.
- And, finally, on third down, A&M runs a screen to combat LSU’s blitzing Mustange. Only, LB Deion Jones sniffs it out for a loss.
Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)
- Not many blips here. The line, especially the center and left side, blocked incredibly well. All but six of LSU’s 324 yards rushing came on runs to the middle and left.
- Nearly every lineman sprung a big run and rarely did they have any miscues. La’el Collins, to no surprise, stuck out most, but center Elliott Porter and Vadal Alexander had great games.
- On pass protection, Mettenberger was touched twice on 20 dropbacks. The line never had a blip in pass pro. Not once.
Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)
- Mettenberger threw about three bad passes. He more than overcame them with a few on-the-string rockets. Some of his best passes were to Landry on third downs.
Backing it up (FB/RB analysis)
- The standout here? No, not a running back. Fullback Connor Neighbors excelled. He rarely missed his block and opened huge holes, kicking out his man time and time again.
- Neighbors’ participation is rapidly increasing. He was in on about 36 snaps against A&M to former starter J.C. Copeland’s 20 snaps.
- Copeland, who was flagged for a false start and missed on about three blocks, didn’t enter the game at FB until early in the second quarter. That means Copeland didn’t play for four full quarters at the fullback position, going back to his goal line fumble in the first quarter of LSU’s loss to Alabama.
- Oh, the running backs. Magee certainly stood out the most, but these guys were running through nice holes. Magee had great vision to see the small crease on his 65-yard run.
- Hill dropped a pass but made up for it by juking a linebacker on another pass route and catching one for a 20-plus gain. His move against the linebacker was a nasty thing.
Five-yard Out (receiver analysis)
- No real drops. If you were being extremely critical, Odell Beckham Jr. “dropped” two passes. They would have been tough catches in some great coverage. He caught one of Mettenberger’s bad passes, though, a quick slant for a first down, extending his frame to get the wide throw.
Front Seven (Defensive linemen and linebacker analysis)
- LSU used the Mustang 3-2-6 package 17 times. It was successful for the most part. The only real time the quasi-dime defense failed was on A&M’s touchdown drive just before half. Other than that, the package did wonders. By using the Mustang, LSU was able to put more speed on the field. DC John Chavis almost always brought a DB (Dwayne Thomas or Jalen Mills, mostly) and linebacker off the edge in a confusing array of blitzes.
- LSU’s D-line did exactly what was planned for it – stayed in front of Manziel. It was a patient attack that paid off. They got into Manziel’s vision.
- Rasco had a team-high four QB pressures, which included a sack. He had the best game of any linemen. Ego Ferguson wasn’t far behind. He had a few pressures as well and seemed to always be around Manziel.
- The linebackers, arguably, had their best game of the season. D.J. Welter and Lamin Barrow shined. The pair were in the game in LSU’s nickel package much of the time (A&M spreads you out). They spied Manziel well, always close to him after the QB broke the pocket. Welter had a couple of key QB pressures as well.
Break It Up (secondary analysis)
- Rashard Robinson certainly deserved his SEC co-Freshman of the Week honor. He and Jalen Mills split the coverage on Mike Evans. They did a good job, though Manziel, at times, had the receiver open but didn’t hit on the throw or chose not to throw.
- Dwayne Thomas was a nightmare for Manziel as the rusher in the Mustang. He’d come in from the edge and harass the heck out of the QB. He had back to back QB pressures from the ‘Stang in a key situation late in the first half.
- Freshman safety Rickey Jefferson played about 15 snaps. He was in mostly during the Mustang packages, especially late in the game. Didn’t really stand out, other than his whiff of a tackle on his first snap and he had a nice tackle late in the game, closing with great speed.
TV Said Whaaaa (TV announcers, etc.)
- “The linesman lost him! He was clearly over the line.” CBS color analyst Gary Danielson on LSU’s fourth-down attempt in the first quarter that was marked short of the first down. The head linesman ran in to mark it short, but it appeared that backup QB Anthony Jennings got the necessary yardage to the 40-yard line.
- CBS play-by-play man Verne Lundquist told a quick tale about Bob Knight calling Cam Cameron after the ‘Bama loss. Knight and Cameron worked together at Indiana – Knight, of course, as the basketball coach, and Cameron as the football coach. “At the end of the game against Alabama, there were a few mental errors. Bob Knight called coach Cameron and said, ‘We are making dumb mistakes,’” Lundquist said.
- “Copeland has been, kind of the backup. He used to be the main guy.” Danielson in reference to Neighbors’ large amount of snaps in the game.
- “We’re watching, basically, 1970s football,” Danielson about LSU’s game plan against A&M.
- Danielson called Mettenberger’s arm “major league.” Speaking to Danielson and Lundquist during the week of practice, Cam Cameron said Mettenberger had “stolen my soul,” Lundquist said.
- “They’re going to start dating,” Danielson after Ego Ferguson, for a second time, shared a friendly facemask bump and head pat with Manziel.